Army of Two: The 40th Day- hands-on

Tackling every criticism of the first game with gusto

The new holographic display helped out slightly. At the touch of a button, you can bring up a Dead Space-like semi-translucent map that floats in front of your character. Known enemy locations are highlighted, and it even projects a green line on the floor directing you to your current objective. You can also ‘tag’ enemies you want your partner to ‘take care of’.

Like a lot of games, 40th Day has a trendy morality system, but its dilemmas seem to exclusively revolve around either saving people or letting them die. For example: a hostage situation. One choice would be to chuck a couple of grenades into the room, kill everyone in sight and let God sort them out. Another, trickier tactic would be to creep up behind an enemy and take them hostage, while your partner ties the other enemies up. Fatalities: zero. It’s still not clear what (if any) in-game rewards you can expect from doing the right or wrong thing, but it’s a pleasing surprise to be given the option here.

In Army of Two you could ‘pimp’ your weapons, but 40th Day goes a step further, letting you customise every part as you see fit. It’s been described as ‘LEGO with Guns’, which is fairly accurate: you can choose the barrel, the cartridge, the sight etc. You can also scrounge items from the environment, like the earlier mentioned coke cans and screwdrivers, and bolt them onto your custom gun as homebrew silencers and bayonets, which you’ll then be able to use in combat. Each element has a set of attributes, such as damage or reload time, meaning there will probably be no ‘perfect’ gun. Handily, you can carry multiple weapons, as well as reclaim one gun at a time from dead enemies.

Co-op has seen even more improvements as well. It’s a feature a lot of developers tend to ignore these days – either due to the increasing difficulty of implementing it in HD games, or because they simply forget that a lot of people still play that way – so it’s a pleasant surprise that Army of Two will still let you work through the campaign in split-screen.

Your list of co-op abilities has increased, and they’re now more ‘organic’: you’ll be able to perform them at any time rather than at prescribed moments. You can now take enemies hostage, feign your own death and even mock surrender, giving your partner a chance to sneak up on enemies from behind.

It’s always a pleasure, and frankly a bit of a shock, to find that a developer has noted every criticism of an original game, and made a concerted effort to improve on all of them. The version we saw was far from finished, so we don’t yet know if 40th Day will be more polished and intuitive than the first AoT – but EA Montreal are definitely on the right track.

Nov 6, 2009


When he's not dying repeatedly in roguelikes, Tom spends most of his working days writing freelance articles, watching ITV game shows, or acting as a butler for his cat. He's been writing about games since 2008, and he's still waiting on that Vagrant Story 2 reveal.
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